Here are the last of the abstracts for the conference’s concurrent sessions. Abstracts of the plenary sessions will follow next week.
Intentional Action, Practical Deliberation, and Moral Considerations
Luis Montes (University of California, Riverside)
In 2003 Joshua Knobe conducted a series of studies in which he found that test subjects were more likely to judge that an agent brought about some result intentionally if that result was bad, even in cases where the agent did not desire that result or where it obtained by some measure of luck. This led Knobe to conclude that people’s judgments about whether an action was performed intentionally are sometimes influenced just by their beliefs about whether the action itself was good or bad. I wish to offer an alternative interpretation of the experimental data and to suggest that people’s intentional action judgments in those cases are actually shaped by consideration of the presence and influence of compelling reasons not to perform the actions in question. For every bad action, there is a compelling reason not to perform it. That reason is what makes the difference in people’s judgments.
A Functionalist Response to Blockheads
Elle Benjamin (University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth)
In this paper I attempt to defend Lewis’ analytic functionalism against Block’s liberalism charge in his “Nation of China” scenario. I will first provide a background of the functionalist theory and an overview of the most influential kinds of functionalism, namely analytic and machine functionalism as advanced by Alan Turing and David Lewis. After explicating Block’s “troubles with functionalism,” I will revisit Lewis’ analytic “causal role” functionalism and explain how it addresses Block’s primary accusation: that functionalism allows too broad a definition of “mind.” In doing so, I will use the distinctions between machine and analytic functionalism to show that while Turing’s functionalism is susceptible to the liberalism charge, Lewis’ functionalism is not. My intent is to demonstrate how Lewis’ solution to the mind/body problem is the most coherent and effective form of functionalism available, and consequently the one we ought to adopt.